Monday, April 22, 2024

A tale of two siblings


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DWIGHT AND DWAYNE BENN both learnt from early that children can be cruel. Because of their unusual skin colour they were teased mercilessly at Westbury Primary School.

“We were very skinny then too,” said Dwight, the older of the two, laughing.

Dwight and Dwayne suffer from a rare case of albinism in Barbados.

What is albinism? Albinism is a disease in which a person has partial or complete loss of pigmentation (coloring) of the skin, eyes and hair.

What causes it? According to Scientific American it is caused by genetic mutations that affect the production of a pigment called melanin.

There is a cell called the melanocyte that is responsible for giving skin, hair, and eyes pigmentation. In albinism, the melanocytes are present, but genetic mutations interfere with their pigment production or their ability to distribute it to keratinocytes, the major cell type comprising the epidermis, or outer layer of the skin.

Because they are black, the mutation affected Dwight and Dwayne’s skin and hair colour.

“We are the last of seven from my parents. There are no twins in our family when we checked and also no one of this colour. All our siblings are dark,” explained Dwight, 31, the firstborn.

“This was a surprise for mum.”

Dwayne and Dwight have grown up sharing the same love of almost everything. As boys they were rambunctious, enjoying playing sports, going to the beach and hanging out together. They even have the same career dreams.

dwayne-and-dwight-061216“It was hard growing up. We were told we didn’t mix with our schoolmates. We had each other’s back. We still do. We had to. We grew up looking different from others. When we got to secondary school (Lester Vaughan) it was much better in terms of being accepted but even now we still get a bit of whispers here and there and some people say we get special treatment because of our skin colour but I don’t feel so,” said Dwight, the more outspoken.

Dwight works in Duty Free Caribbean, Cave Shepherd, while Dwayne is a personal trainer and involved in the security field.

“I have been going steady in the gym now for six years and been a personal trainer for the last three. I have also started training Dwight who has been in the gym for three years.”

The gym has helped the guys blow off steam after a long day, while helping to improve their physique.

“We both model. So we like to be healthy and look the part,” said Dwayne.

Both boys said modelling isn’t new to them as they have done it from primary school.

“We were approached from back them but our mum wasn’t too keen on it so we were doing it off and on.

“We respected our mum to not go against her orders so we fully started when we got older and could make our own decisions,” said Dwight.

“Once mum was against anything we knew not to do it.”

The boys suffered a harsh blow last year October when their mum died.

“She was sick for a long time. It was that kinda situation for a long time. I stayed home and took care of her. I was at every appointment, I knew every doctor by name. I was there right down to the end. She was our rock,” said Dwayne.

Dwayne, who is an electrician said he would complete his jobs in the mornings to get home and take care of his mum and his six-year old son. He would then go to his night job and get home at 4:30 a.m. to take care of his mum before going off to the other job.

“That was my normal routine for quite a few years.”

While still grieving over the loss of their mum, they said now they are living the life they know she would want them to.

“She would want us to be happy, have a family, enjoy life, do the stuff we want to do,” said Dwayne.

The guys love playing video games and it is their weekend ritual.

“The weekend is ours with our sons (Dwight also has an 11-year-old son). We are uncles to four so they come over too to hang out,” said Dwayne.

They also like motorbikes and are in a “crew” and have been riding for bit longer than five years. They are avid football fans (Manchester United) and while Dwight doesn’t like Barcelona, Dwayne isn’t a fan of Chelsea. Dwight likes the colour blue while Dwayne likes green and they raid each other’s closets. Dwight is more of a suit person while Dwayne is jeans and T-shirts.

“I don’t like when Dwayne moves my stuff and don’t put it back where he found it,” said Dwight.

This started a heated, friendly debate about likes and dislikes.

Dwayne doesn’t like untidiness and says Dwight likes to have things out of place.

“How does my book being where I want it out of place?” asked Dwight.

“Because it shouldn’t be there,” answered Dwayne.

“So how can you say the book shouldn’t be there when it is my book and I want it there? If I put it there is because I want it there,” said Dwight, with me nodding in agreement.

Dwight said it irritates him to be searching for something and Dwayne moves it and watches him search then says “Oh I moved it,” said Dwight, laughing.

“It shouldn’t be there,” Dwayne said stoically. “I move it because I am a very tidy guy and I don’t like things out of place. It is not out of place for him but it is out of place for me,” he said, while Dwight laughed hysterically.

Both boys wanted to be architects (put on hold when mum got sick) and says they are still intent on doing that. They both want to get married (they have different taste in the type of women) and have a big family.

Dwight says Dwayne is competitive, which Dwayne doesn’t agree with. Dwight says Dwayne is over protective, which he agrees with.

Both guys get mistaken for each other all the time and like to play along.

“We get mistaken all the time. We have tricked people and played along,” they said simultaneously.

Both like macaroni pie and agreed that Dwayne is the better cook. The twins live together, a move they said was natural.

The guys grew up in Bridge Gap and moved to Black Rock and for the past two years they have been living in Bank Hall.

Dwayne gave Dwight a scare a couple years ago when he wanted to move overseas to live.

“I was like how can you move away and leave me here. So I was going to move with him,” said Dwight seriously.

“It’s hard to separate us. We grew up doing everything together, sharing a lot of stuff. So when we started talking about building our homes it was who is going to live up top and who takes the bottom. There was never any doubt that we weren’t moving together,” said Dwight.

The boys’ goals haven’t changed and the only regret is that their mum isn’t going to be around to see them accomplish it.


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